News

    Japan Says Prime Minister Did Not Ask to Address US Congress

    Japanese government officials are denying Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has asked to address a joint session of Congress during a planned visit to Washington next month. An influential U.S. congressman has said that if Mr. Koizumi wants speak before American lawmakers, he should first promise not to re-visit a controversial Japanese war shrine.

    The annual visits by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to a Tokyo war shrine have chilled Japan's relations with China and South Korea, which suffered abuse by the Japanese military before and during World War II. But until now, those visits have not been an issue in the United States.

    On April 26, Congressman Henry Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, raised the issue in a letter to speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert. Mr. Hyde wrote that if Mr. Koizumi wants to address a joint session of Congress next month, he should first pledge not to visit the controversial Yasukuni Shrine again this year.

    The existence of the letter was confirmed to VOA News by the International Relations Committee staff, and the contents appeared in the Japanese newspaper, Asahi Shimbun.

    According to the newspaper, Hyde, a World War II veteran, wrote that another visit by Mr. Koizumi to the war shrine would offend those Americans who remember the war.

    He also said it would dishonor the chamber of Congress where, following the December 1941 Japanese attack on the U.S. fleet in Hawaii, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared a state of war.

    But Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Shinzo Abe, says the problem with Hyde's objection is that Mr. Koizumi never asked to address Congress during his U.S. visit.

    He says Mr. Koizumi has no plans to make a speech before Congress, and has not expressed any desire to do so. He adds that such criticism from an American lawmaker is rare, and that most U.S. congressmen appear to respect freedom of religion.

    Yasukuni is a Shinto shrine that honors all of Japan's modern-era war dead. Because these include a handful of men convicted of war crimes after Japan's defeat in 1945, China and South Korea consider the visits by Mr. Koizumi to be an insult.

    Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Tomohiko Taniguchi, says the stance of Hyde, a Republican Party congressman from Illinois, is not shared by the Republican president as far as Japan is aware.

    "When President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi met before, they may have talked about this, but I do not think I have heard anything coming out of the Bush administration about this," he said.

    U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has also alluded to the issue of the visits during his current trip through Asia. In remarks in Seoul before his arrival here in Tokyo, he urged Japan, South Korea and China to resolve their differences.


    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora